Tag Archive | Vehicle tracking system

Limits on the Private Sector after US v Jones

Three great articles by Robert Gellman on location privacy, on First Amendment & Fourth Amendment issues in the US Supreme Court’s GPS Tracking case (US v. Jones), and on the complexities of legislating privacy after US v Jonesin the Communia Blog of the Woodrow Wilson Center‘s Commons Lab.

Robert Gellman, JD is a privacy and information policy consultant in Washington, D.C. He served for 17 years on the staff of a subcommittee in the House of Representatives. He can be reached at bob [at] bobgellman. [dot] com or visit his website at http://www.bobgellman.com/.

Supreme Court Ruled on GPS Tracking Case, Backs Privacy Rights

By Jess Bravin, Wall Street Journal, What They Know, January 23, 2012

WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court ruled Monday [in United States v. Jones] that police must obtain a warrant before attaching a GPS tracker to a suspect’s vehicle, voting unanimously in one of the first major cases to test constitutional privacy rights in the digital age. … The court split 5-4 over the reasoning behind Monday’s decision, with Justice Antonin Scalia writing for the majority that as conceived in the 18th century, the Fourth Amendment’s protection of “persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures” would extend to private property such as an automobile. …

For full text of the article, visit Supreme Court Backs Privacy Rights in GPS Case – WSJ.com.

For full text of the Court’s opinion in United States v. Jones, click here.

St. Louis Judge To Address GPS Tracking

by Kashmir Hill, Forbes, Jan 3, 2012

In 2012, we can look forward to a decision from the Supreme Court in U.S. vs. Jones, about whether law enforcement need to get a warrant to slap a GPS tracking device on a person’s car. A judge in St. Louis is not waiting to hear what The Nine think of the issue, though. U.S. Magistrate Judge David Noce ruled last week that the FBI didn’t need a warrant to put a tracker on the car of a government employee back in 2010. …

For full text of the article, visit St. Louis Judge Not Waiting For Supreme Court’s GPS Tracking Decision – Forbes.

New CRS Report on Governmental Tracking of Cell Phones and Vehicles

Governmental Tracking of Cell Phones and Vehicles: The Confluence of Privacy, Technology, and Law

by Richard M. Thompson, Law Clerk,Congressional Research Service Report #R42109, December 1, 2011


Technology has advanced considerably since the framers established the constitutional parameters for searches and seizures in the Fourth Amendment. What were ink quills and parchment are now cell phones and the Internet. It is undeniable that these advances in technology threaten to diminish privacy. Law enforcement’s use of cell phones and GPS devices to track an individual’s movements brings into sharp relief the challenge of reconciling technology, privacy, and law. Beyond the Constitution, a miscellany of statutes and cases may apply to these tracking activities. One such statute is the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA), P.L. 99-508, 100 Stat. 1848 (1986), which protects individual privacy and governs the methods by which law enforcement may retrieve electronic communications information for investigative purposes, including pen registers, trap and trace devices, wiretaps, and tracking devices. The primary debate surrounding cell phone and GPS tracking is not whether they are permitted by statute but rather what legal standard should apply: probable cause, reasonable suspicion, or something less.

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C-SPAN Radio’s Supreme Court Oral Argument of US v Knotts, Cited in GPS Tracking Case

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C-SPAN Radio‘s Supreme Court Historic Oral Argument: “United States, Petitioner V. Knotts” (1983)

Friday, October 28, 2011

On C-SPAN Radio’ s historic Supreme Court Oral Argument this week: On November 8, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the oral argument in “United States v. Jones”—a case about police use of a GPS tracking device and the 4th amendment prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure. And this Saturday, on C-SPAN Radio’s historic Supreme Court oral argument, a case cited in “United States v. Jones.” From 1983: “United States, Petitioner v. Knotts, Respondent”.

Listen to the courtroom recording of the oral argument in the 1983 case “United States v. Knotts”–Saturday, October 29 at 6 pm ET on C-SPAN Radio: 90.1 FM in the Washington, DC area, online at Cspanradio.org and nationwide on XM Satellite Radio, channel 119. The audio and information in this program are courtesy of the Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law at: http://www.oyez.org/

via C-SPAN Radio’s Supreme Court Historic Oral Argument: “United States, Petitioner V. Knotts” (1983) | C-SPAN.

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Supreme Court Considers GPS Tracking Case Today

United States v. Jones

Docket No. Op. Below Argument Opinion Vote Author Term

10-1259 D.C. Cir. Nov 8, 2011

Issue: (1) Whether the warrantless use of a tracking device on respondent’s vehicle to monitor its movements on public streets violated the Fourth Amendment; and (2) whether the government violated respondent’s Fourth Amendment rights by installing the GPS tracking device on his vehicle without a valid warrant and without his consent.

Plain English Issue: Whether the Constitution allows police to put a tracking device on a car without either a warrant or the owner’s permission; and whether the Constitution is violated when police use the tracking device to keep track of the car’s whereabouts.

For links to SCOTUS coverage of this case, as well as other materials, visit United States v. Jones : SCOTUSblog.

Hot Spatial Law and Policy Issues for the Coming Year

by Kevin Pomfret, Spatial Law and Policy, October 4, 2011

The next year is shaping up to be an important period for the geospatial industry. Over that time there is likely to be movement on a number of key legal and policy issues that could have a significant impact on the industry’s growth over the next decade. These issues include:

  • LightSquared/GPS dispute
  • GPS tracking case to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court
  • Budget considerations
  • Impact of privacy legislation and regulation on geolocation
  • Efforts to use the UN to regulate information on the Internet

For full text of this nice review article, visit Spatial Law and Policy.

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